Is underlayment necessary for hardwood floors?
Despite the benefits of having an underlayment, take note that it is not necessary all the time. For instance, there are some companies with hardwood floors that are already pre-installed with underlayment below them, so there is no need to have them installed on the subfloor.
If the floor is new and if it is already smooth enough and sturdy, you might not need to have an underlayment. However, in most instances, it will be safe to say that you will need underlayment before the installation of hardwood flooring.
Usually made of foam, rubber, cork, or felt, among other materials, an underlayment simply refers to what goes between the original floor and the hardwood flooring that is about to be installed. It adds softness, reduces the impact of sound, resists moistures, provides additional support, and makes the hardwood longer-lasting.
Looking for underlayment, however, can be an overwhelming task especially for the uninitiated. If you need help finding one that will work best for your hardwood floor, read on and learn from the valuable insights we will be sharing.
- Do I Need an Underlayment for Hardwood Floors?
- First Step 630-Square Foot Roll Underlayment
- Roberts 70-190A 70-190 Super Felt Insulating Underlayment
- 3in1 Vapor Barrier Flooring Underlayment w/Overlap and pre-Attached Tape Strip – Bestlaminate
- FLOORLOT SHOP. FLOORS. DELIVERED. 200sqft 3mm Laminate Flooring Vapor Barrier Underlayment
- Roberts 70-025 Qep 70-029 Unison Underlayment
- IncStores Pre-Cut 100 Square Foot Rubber Underlayment Rolls for Hardwoods, LVT, Laminate & Engineered Wood Sub Floors
- UltraSeal Underlayment (100 sq. ft Roll)
- Black Jack 100 sq. ft., 28 ft. x 43 in. x 2.5 mm Roll of 2-in-1 Premium Laminate and Engineered Wood Flooring Underlayment
- QuietWalk Underlayment for Laminate Flooring with Attached Vapor Barrier Offering Superior Sound Reduction
- MP Global Products QuietWalk Laminate Flooring Underlayment
- QEP 72000Q 1/4 Inch Cork Underlayment 200-Feet square Roll for Ceramic and Porcelain Tile or Laminate and Wood Floors
- How Do You Install an Underlayment for Hardwood Floor?
- What is The Recommended Underlayment for Hardwood Flooring?
Do I Need an Underlayment for Hardwood Floors?
Optional, if you already have a plywood subfloor, and the subfloor is smooth and level, then you may not need an underlayment beneath the hardwood floor. Plywood has some moisture resistance already compared to solid wood, and it mostly gives a smooth surface.To make things easier for you, we spent hours conducting research, going through some of the top products available on the market. Below are some of our top recommendations.
First Step 630-Square Foot Roll Underlayment
The premium construction of this underlayment makes this one of the tops picks on the market. It comes with cushioning Styrofoam beads, which are instrumental in terms of improving air circulation. It also comes with antimicrobial protection.
To prove the quality of this product, it has been subjected to a compression test exerting a maximum pressure of 1,320 pounds. The results showed that the material is able to retain up to 96% of its thickness, which obviously speaks about its exceptional quality.
Roberts 70-190A 70-190 Super Felt Insulating Underlayment
This is an underlayment that is praised for its ability to absorb sound effectively. It has a thickness of 3mm, which also makes it capable of correcting minor problems with your subfloor. In terms of materials, it is made using fibers that have been treated at an extremely high temperature.
If there is one problem with this product, it would be that cutting will be quite hard and will require a bit of an effort.
3in1 Vapor Barrier Flooring Underlayment w/Overlap and pre-Attached Tape Strip – Bestlaminate
This is known for its versatility as it can be used in almost all flooring materials, including hardwood. It has a thickness of 2mm, which will be more than enough to provide insulation to your floors.
There are some users, however, who revealed that it has poor construction. There can be bubbles and waves, but this could just be a bad batch.
FLOORLOT SHOP. FLOORS. DELIVERED. 200sqft 3mm Laminate Flooring Vapor Barrier Underlayment
Whether it is for laminate or engineered hardwood floors, this is another product that can prove to be impressive. It is one of the best ways to minimize squeaking on the floor and to provide sound insulation. It also has moisture and vapor barrier. To add, it can resist mold and mildew.
When purchased, it already comes with an overlap and tape that will be needed to complete its installation.
Roberts 70-025 Qep 70-029 Unison Underlayment
It is the third underlayment from Roberts mentioned in this post, which speaks a lot about the reputation of the company when it comes to the quality of their products. It is made of polyethylene foam, which will provide effective cushioning.
There is a 2mil. top, which provides it with the ability to protect against moisture, eliminating the need to install a moisture barrier separately.
IncStores Pre-Cut 100 Square Foot Rubber Underlayment Rolls for Hardwoods, LVT, Laminate & Engineered Wood Sub Floors
Beyond hardwood floors, you can also use this for laminate, engineered wood, or tiles, among other materials. However, the manufacturer strongly advises that it should never be used with vinyl and linoleum.
It is well-loved by many because it is made using 80% recycled materials, making it eco-friendly. Not only that, but it also comes with natural antimicrobial properties, allowing it to prevent mold and mildew.
UltraSeal Underlayment (100 sq. ft Roll)
As the manufacturer claims, this product has the highest rating when it comes to an effective acoustic barrier, making it a great choice if you would want to minimize noise. It is a lightweight material. Installation can also be a snap.
There are some buyers, however, who noted that the material can be too thin for some and can be easily prone to breakage. Some contractors recommend using two layers of the underlayment to make it stronger.
Black Jack 100 sq. ft., 28 ft. x 43 in. x 2.5 mm Roll of 2-in-1 Premium Laminate and Engineered Wood Flooring Underlayment
One roll of this underlayment can already cover an area of 100 square feet. It has a dense-cell structure, which contributes to its rigidity. This also allows it to resist moisture, as well as the growth of mold and mildew, making it a great way to keep your floor hygienic.
Nonetheless, one of the possible issues associated with its use would be how it may not be as effective in reducing sound from footsteps as against the more premium counterparts.
QuietWalk Underlayment for Laminate Flooring with Attached Vapor Barrier Offering Superior Sound Reduction
One of the reasons we have included this in our recommendations is its exceptional ability to reduce sound, especially from footsteps. After all, it won’t be called QuietPlus for anything!
The recycled fibers that are used in the production of the underlayment are known for their density, allowing it to resist compression and stay rigid through the years.
MP Global Products QuietWalk Laminate Flooring Underlayment
Regardless of your hardwood flooring is glued or nailed, this underlayment is another promising option that should be on your list. It can help conserve heat and dampen sound. It is also easy to install and has excellent adhesion property.
With the moisture protection that it can provide, you’ll be happy with its ability to help lengthen the functional life of your hardwood floor.
QEP 72000Q 1/4 Inch Cork Underlayment 200-Feet square Roll for Ceramic and Porcelain Tile or Laminate and Wood Floors
One thing that differentiates this from the products that have been mentioned above is the overall construction since it is made of natural cork. It is thick enough to act as a crack isolation membrane, which will be critical in making your hardwood floors longer-lasting.
If you have heated floors, this underlayment will also be promising as it is known for improving thermal transmission.
How Do You Install an Underlayment for Hardwood Floor?
The installation can vary based on the specific product that you will choose, as well as the material of the sub-floor.
In most cases, there are two ways by which you can complete the installation of the underlayment – staple or glue down. This will depend on the material that is used in the underlayment. The two sides are often made differently, so pay attention to which one should be facing up and which one should be facing down.
What is The Recommended Underlayment for Hardwood Flooring?
In the case of most hardwood floors, it is more than enough to choose the underlayment with a thickness of 2 to 3mm. Some manufacturers might claim that thicker is better for sound absorption but that is not always the case as it is not only the thickness that matters to minimize sound.
What Underlayment Suits Different Sub-Floor Materials?
It should be noted that the underlayment of choice does not only depend on the material of the floor but also on the subfloor. If it is made of plywood, for instance, you need protection from moisture, which is why you need dense materials. Permeable or semi-permeable underlayment will work.
On the other hand, if the subfloor is made of concrete, you should choose only impermeable underlayment, making sure that moisture will not reach the hardwood floor.
Before the installation of your hardwood flooring, make sure to choose the right underlayment, including those that have been mentioned above. They will be instrumental in maximizing the quality of your hardwood floor.